Winemaker Joey Tensley's understanding of the importance of truly unusual vineyard sites has helped place him into the highest echelon of California's Syrah producers. Tensley seeks out some of the most extreme growing sites in Santa Barbara County, rightfully recognizing that harsh conditions make for intensely concentrated wines. Since he launched his own label in 1998 with a specific focus on single-vineyard bottlings, he's been producing Syrahs and other Rhone varietals with a minimalist's touch, emphasizing stellar viticulture over enhancements in the winery.
The Tierra Alta Vineyard is located in the Ballard Canyon area of the Santa Ynez Valley, a stone's throw from such famous vineyards such as Purisima Mountain, Stolpman and Larner. It was planted in 2000, and yielded its first vintage in 2003. The Syrah in the vineyard is from the 99 clone, which is notable for pronounced notes of mineral and earth. In the vineyards, leaves and fruit are pruned rigorously over the summer to reduce yields and increase concentration.
Tensley has hauled in a series of impressive harvests from Tierra Alta, and the 2007 is no exception. This wine bursts with notes of vibrant huckleberry and wild berries, with hints of mineral and leather. On the palate, it's deep and round, with a smooth, lengthy finish.
Winemaker Joey Tensley
Pair this wine with grilled lamb kabobs marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic and rosemary. But really, any grilled meat will go well with this wonderful Syrah.